Tuesday, October 2, 2018

When Support Divides

I always told my kids that if you want to help someone, it's about what they need and when they need it. It's not about what's easiest for you to do at a time when it's most convenient for you. I want to say right upfront that I know that. And I'll get back to it.

I almost posted this on my Facebook page yesterday, but then I realized that by doing so, I'd be complicit in the same behavior I'm objecting to. So I decided to have my say here, on my own little space in the blogosphere.

The "black out" movement on Facebook this past weekend was about support. Even more, it was about solidarity. Or it was supposed to be. It turned into quite the opposite. I was in the kitchen baking when I started getting pings indicating that I had private messages informing me of the movement. I can't tell you how much I wish I had just stayed there, baked on and avoided the whole debacle.

Whipped Pumpkin Poke Cake, a moist white cake studded with pumpkin whipped cream. Perfect for Halloween or Thanksgiving, easy enough to make any day. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

Whipped Pumpkin Poke Cake

But I didn't. And In case you are lucky enough not to know, I'll explain as best I can. I don't know how it started, but word went around privately that there would be a show of unity among women wishing to make a quiet and peaceful stance against the abuse that so many of us have suffered. The way it would be done would be that for one day we would black out our Facebook profile picture. There was some talk about staying off the platform altogether, but the point was to show what it would be like without women, have men wonder where we are. I don't know about that part, to tell you the truth. I thought most of the men I know would probably not notice (I was wrong, many did). The bottom line, however, was to bring awareness to violence against women. Whether I agreed with all of the rationalization or not, I got the meaning. A form of peaceful protest.

I don't often join in these kinds of things. I wasn't going to participate in this one either. But after a week of heartbreaking disrespect towards victims and blatant attempts to shut many of them up, of watching in horror the way that those who are supposed to represent us have gone on and on about the harm done to the accused while not only ignoring the trauma of the victims, but trying everything they can to block an investigation, I rethought this one. I would change my Facebook profile picture to black for one day. Not as any kind of lesson to men, but as a statement to women that at this particular time in our politics and in our society, I know that what is happening is wrong.

Back to where I started. Yes, anyone, including many of us who went black and many who didn't, have the right to decide in what way we choose to be supported, what things feel like support to us. But that's more of a private thing. In public there is no way to identify, discuss, come to a consensus with every woman who'd been victimized in order to agree on a time and a place and a way to show solidarity. So someone, out of compassion by the way, chose the "black out". It may not have been what every traumatized victim would have chosen, I get that.

But someone came up with this idea and many of us felt it was a way to engage. And what did we get for it? Those of us who participated who had been victims ourselves and those who did not have personal experiences but wanted to make a stand? We got called out in public. 

Going black raises a dark cloud. When Support Divides | Graphic property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #women #support

I started seeing some, and then more and more memes and comments and posts criticizing the black out. I have to tell you that I was shocked. We were insulted and guilted and bullied and shamed. We were told that our black profile picture is dehumanizing, that we are advocating shutting up instead of speaking out. 

This wasn't supposed to be in place of public support. This wasn't supposed to be instead of using our voices. This wasn't supposed to be a way to dehumanize anyone. It was, plain and simple, a show of unity. In sharp contrast to screaming at senators on television, this was supposed to be a quiet, peaceful act of love. 

By disparaging the movement at the exact same time and in the exact same place, an act of unity was transformed into division. Instead of joining together, women were attacking each other. In-fighting, that's what it turned into. What, in the end, it brought out in us as women, as a community, as human beings? Of that I am ashamed.

I did not take the black out box down from my profile. I was saddened and disillusioned, not for me but for all of us. 

If we meet support with criticism, how do we ever effect change? If we can't appreciate those who stand in our corner, no matter how or where or why, we are the ones silencing voices, diminishing our own stand, bolstering those who victimize with impunity. 

If we reject an outstretched hand, we are breaking the very bonds we desperately need to strengthen. And we all lose.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Whipped Pumpkin Poke Cake        

Printable Recipe

1 box white cake mix
1 box white chocolate pudding mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 can pureed pumpkin

OPT: 1 1/2 tsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13 baking pan.
*Beat cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, sour cream, and vegetable oil for 2 minutes.
*Pour into prepared pan.
*Bake according to cake package directions, until center springs back to the touch.
*Cool completely. Using the bottom of a wooden spoon, poke about 40 holes into but not all the way through the cooled cake.
*Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Beat in 3/4 cup powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Continue beating until stiff peaks hold, then beat in the pureed pumpkin. Pipe this whipped pumpkin into the holes in the cake, then use the rest to frost the top.
*OPT: Mix together 1 1/2 tsp powdered sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.
*Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting and serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.


  1. This is the first I've heard about a Facebook blackout, and I think maybe I'm glad I've been living under a rock :-)

  2. As I said before, you are taking a stand and to hell with what people think. They may not understand the pain that victims have gone through. I'm happy that I was your ear when you needed to vent (scream?). I understand and I get it.

  3. I just can't understand this. ANY show of support is a show of support. Whether you're carrying a placard, putting a rainbow across your picture, or simply blacking it out. Does that mean only certain forms of support are accepted? How very strange.
    P.S. Good on you for your stand!!!

    1. As you probably gathered from this piece, I just can't understand it either.

  4. Didn't hear about the Facebook blackout but you know it doesn't surprise me that some people took offence at it because some people complain and take offence about anything and everything.

  5. If I'd known I would have stood with you. Shame on them for making it about them.

    1. Thank you, I know you would. And even if you had thought it was wrong, you wouldn't have publicly undermined all of the women who were just trying to make a stand.

  6. I didn't find out about the blackout until Sunday. I did not participate, because I suspected the worst of social media would come out. Social media has become so incredibly toxic and, sadly, it turns out my suspicion was correct. How sad that it happened and how sad I was scared away. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

  7. As a victim it was really important to me NOT to participate and a meme laid out my reasons why. I appreciate solidarity, but I was tired of being asked to participate and made my stance public.

    1. Many of us are victims, we all make our own choices what to say or do and when. I do think, however that there is a difference between not participating and making uncomfortable those victims who do.

  8. Support is support ! Unfortunately I was with my sister not paying attention to news or social media so I was very late, too late to the controversy.

    1. You're better off, it's still going on, it may never end.

  9. I’m sorry your support was seen as division. Our country is in a sad state. The constant verbal abuse through social media has gotten out of hand.

    1. I agree, Dawn, social media has a lot of power, it can unify and it can divide.


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